Re: Flute tarnish
 

Re: Flute tarnish

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Re: Flute tarnish    11:58 on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Zevang
(491 points)

Cflutist, I'd go with the different alloys being used explanation.

Also, I've read somewhere that solid silver flutes actually are finished silver plated for esthetic purposes. Could that be one more variant in the equation?


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Re: Flute tarnish    12:34 on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

cflutist
(175 points)

So this is interesting and I learned something today.

I called Brannen and they said they don't plate anything. They use Sterling silver (92.5% silver) in their flutes and keys.

I called Haynes and they said they use coin silver (90% silver, 10% copper) in their flutes. The handmade ones (my backup flute)made in Boston are NOT plated, while the ones made in China ARE plated (including the solid silver ones). I asked why? He said it was to hide imperfections/blemishes in the manufacturing process.

So knowing now that my Haynes and Brannen are NOT plated could explain their rapid rate of tarnish. While the Emerson Alto and Gemmy camping flute are plated (even with solid silver bodies) look brand new after 10 years.

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Re: Flute tarnish    13:48 on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

jose_luis
(2365 points)

There could be surface treatments that might be kept secret by manufacturers, such as a Rhodium very thin layer. When polishing a flute, they go away and the silver is no longer protected and tarnishes more easily.

In any case you should not use any silver cleaning cream on your instrument. This is very risky and much worst than having some tarnish on it.

Air pollution may play an important role. Most probably you cannot control it, but just in case, do not leave the instrument unnecessarily exposed to free air (for example on a flute stand). Always put it in its hard case and close it thoroughly. Also use the soft pouch on the hard box if your flute has one.

Finally, whenever possible, avoid playing in open air or sites you may suspect have a higher degree of pollution, particularly pollution derived from fuel burning byproducts. Sulphur in any of its variants is a big enemy of silver.


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Re: Flute tarnish    15:27 on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

cflutist
(175 points)

So back to the OP's question.
We have two other Muramatsu EX flutes that do not tarnish, while his started tarnishing more after FluteWorld serviced it.

I'm wondering if while polishing they removed some type of coating that prevented the tarnish in the first place?

Having an engineering background (in addition to music), I'm always curious about why things are the way they are.

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Re: Flute tarnish    20:55 on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

JButky
(657 points)

All silver reacts to form tarnish. (except Argentium silver which has germanium added and is the only tarnish free alloy.) The reaction rate is dependent on the amount of sulfur compounds in the air, Catalysts (such a skin oils) increase the reaction, and condition of the surface grain structure.

It has often been said that excellent hand burnishing techniques compress the outer grain structure while polishing in this manner to reduce the surface area grain structure. Less surface area, less exposure to tarnish compounds. Tarnished surfaces have their grain structure clogged with tarnish are have less silver in their surface area to cause the reaction. Cleaning increases the surface area exposure to begin the process again. It's kind of unavoidable so most places use a tarnish shield application after cleaning as a preventative measure (for a while at least). Some people, Particularly through adolescence and young adulthood have a very acidic skin chemistry and there is almost nothing you can do to prevent people with this condition from tarnishing a silver flute. I forget what the condition is called in worst cases, but milder cases are affected by diet. This is not the normal case, but it is something to be aware of.

If you want to get into the various forms of cleaning methods and how they affect the flute silver tube, we can do that.. Just ask.

Joe B

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Re: Flute tarnish    21:59 on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

cflutist
(175 points)

Joe,

I still don't understand why my Emerson Alto and Gemmy look brand new after 10 years, while my Haynes and Brannen (less than the Haynes) show tarnish. The Haynes is not played at all and sits in the case as does the wooden piccolo with sterling silver keys. Those two instruments show the worst tarnish.

Shouldn't all of the instruments tarnish since they are all stored in the same house?

<Added>

Is the surface grain structure of a plated instrument different than one of solid silver?

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Re: Flute tarnish    08:33 on Thursday, February 16, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

JButky
(657 points)

Ah yes, the case phenomenon, Cases tend to be harbingers of sulfur compounds. Suppliers often deal with the problem of what is known as "off-gassing" of the materials used in construction of the case. (usually within the glue that is used) Since many cases come from a different supplier and construction and or glue supplies used originate in China it is extremely difficult to control the glue formulation that causes this.

Grain structure is as it comes, It can be mechanically depressed to lock out surface air space as much as can be achieved. If you have black tarnish and if it is removed through an acidic dip process, you will have silver degradation that will increase air space in the grain structure as the acid dissolves the tarnish leaving more air in its place at the surface grain structure. You then put that in a closed environment rich with tarnish causing compounds with no circulation and bingo, you've got a recurrent tarnish problem that is bigger than before the tarnish is removed.

All of us flute manufacturers have dealt with this problem on some level. Jewelers often use activated charcoal as gas sorbents. (This type are the black 3M paper strips flute players often use) But there are many forms of it. The white papers use zinc oxide as a sorbent. I not exactly sure off the top of my head but I think that's what is used on the white Hagerty's tarnish strips.

If you store it in a case try one of the protective bags made of colloidal silver. The problem though is that it may not fit back in the case.

Here's a link (not USA) that should give you some ideas...

http://www.cwaller.de/english.htm?sorbents.htm~information

But ultimately, I would suspect the case is off-gassing and causing the excessive tarnish...

Joe B


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Re: Flute tarnish    08:48 on Thursday, February 16, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

cflutist
(175 points)

Off gassing?
The Haynes flute was purchased in 1972, is the case (which I'm pretty sure was not made in China) still off-gassing after 40 years?

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Re: Flute tarnish    10:36 on Thursday, February 16, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

JButky
(657 points)

Could be in the lining material too. Try sealing it in a plastic bag in the case and see how much that !****!s the tarnish formation. Then you'll have your answer...Either way, you need some type of barrier between the flute body and the tarnish agents.

JB

<Added>

Is 8notes editing posts? What's up with that? Can't remember exactly what I wrote, but it would have been stops, prevents or inhibits...hardly a reason for that...

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Re: Flute tarnish    17:52 on Thursday, February 16, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

superrune424
(80 points)

Can someone tell me what Fluteworld does to polish flutes? I don't have them in my area, so I can't ask them myself.

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Re: Flute tarnish    20:07 on Thursday, February 16, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

JButky
(657 points)

They most likely use similar methods as everyone else. This is not unusual and nothing that fluteworld "did" is causing excessive tarnish. It's just one of the natures of the beast.

You can call or email Fluteworld and ask them. I'm sure they'll let you know.

Joe B

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Re: Flute tarnish    09:29 on Friday, February 17, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Watcher
(57 points)

@JButky,

You've provided some excellent explanations of why my flute is tarnishing. What is still unclear to me is why the rate of tarnishing has accelerated enormously since it was polished. As far as I can tell, no other variables have changed.

At this point, I'm afraid to do anything to clean it, because I don't know what actions I might take which might make it even worse.

Thoughts?

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Re: Flute tarnish    09:46 on Friday, February 17, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

cflutist
(175 points)

I'm still speculating that FW could have removed some type of anti-tarnish barrier now exposing the "raw" silver to the elements.

I'm also guessing that silver plating itself must behave differently than solid silver. I've seen a lot of solid silver Haynes, Powells, and Brannens in my day (been playing flute since 1968), all owned by different players, but all look the same as far as tarnish is concerned. Then there are the college students in our orchestra with their "step up" flutes with some amount of silver plating, and all those flutes look shiny/brand new (my Gemmy and Emerson Alto also behave the same way).

Would like to hear more from Joe though.

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Re: Flute tarnish    12:35 on Friday, February 17, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Watcher
(57 points)

Here's the response I received from Muramatsu America. They make no reference to any type of anti-tarnish agent:
The good news is that tarnish does not affect sound quality or tone. The bad news is, silver tarnishes. Unfortunately, there is no magic fix, since it is a reaction between the metal and
oxygen, along with the acids from your hands. There are ways to slow the process: make sure that your hands are clean before playing, and wiping the exterior of the instrument after
every time you play. Put the instrument back in its case after you are through playing, do not leave it out.  We had a customer call stating that their flute was turning blue! After a bit of questioning,
they stated that they left the flute assembled on a stand next to their gas log fireplace....this was tarnishing the flute at a rapid rate.

There are "anti-tarnish" strips that you can try in the case with the flute. These strips help to slow the oxidation process. If you would like a package, we will be happy to send some to you (we'll need your address).

We do not recommend using polish or polish infused cloths, since they have tiny particles that can scratch the surface of the instrument. When you have your routine servicing done, the
technician can safely remove the tarnish.

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Re: Flute tarnish    16:26 on Friday, February 17, 2012 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

cflutist
(175 points)

Sounds like standard advice.

I wipe my keys down with a microfiber cloth when I'm finished and do NOT use any cloths with polishing agents in them.

   





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